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BMA approves Town reorganization, Fitzgerald questions some decisions

The Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a reorganization of the Town at its April 13 meeting by a vote of 3-1, with Alderman Jerome Fitzgerald expressing disapproval of several changes included in the plan.
Operations Manager Craig Ford began a “Work Task Analysis” in December 2008, a job which included studying and rewriting most, if not all, of the Town’s job descriptions and making suggestions on how he thought the Town would run more efficiently.
“Some of these recommendations will be received well, and some won’t,” Ford said.
One suggestion was to split up the Department of Public Works, moving the Sanitation Department into a separate Solid Works Department, which includes refuse collection and recycling. Jeff Thomas, current director of public works, would become the solid waste director at his current salary level.
The other two departments would be Garage and Streets. The Town would have to advertise for a new position, the director of streets, at around $53,000 a year.
Fitzgerald questioned at the logic of creating a new position in the name of saving the Town money through reorganization.
“Why would you create another streets opening when you have Thomas who has done it for years,” he asked Ford. “Why would we want to spend $53,000 for another position when Thomas has done a good job?”
Ford and Mayor Kelly Wolfe said spreading out responsibilities among specialized personnel would prove more effective and efficient.
Also in the staffing plan, Ford suggested eliminating the position of Marketing and Advertising Manager, which Melissa Cloyd held. He said the duties can be contracted out or split up between the new Visitors Center manager, Amber Crumley, and whoever is hired for the newly-created position of director of tourism and marketing.
Cloyd, who attended the meeting, said she found out from last week’s Herald & Tribune that her job was being eliminated.
However, when contacted Monday, Crumley said Cloyd had known for weeks that something was going to happen with her position, and that the day before the meeting, she informed Cloyd that her position was going to be eliminated.
Fitzgerald, after asking who held the position, with Cloyd raising her hand, apologized to her for the move.
Aldermen Chuck Vest, Terry Countermine, and Mary Gearhart voted for the reorganization. Fitzgerald voted against it.
The BMA also approved the creating of a treatment facility overlay zone by a vote of 3-1, with Fitzgerald dissenting.
Jonesborough officials are looking to zone property near the county jail to allow methadone clinics and substance abuse treatment facilities, although there have been no direct inquiries about such a facility coming to the Town.
By having a specific zone set up in advance of any requests, the Town will then be able to control where a substance abuse clinic would go if there was ever a request.
But Fitzgerald remained against the idea of creating a zone, which he said he saw as allowing a clinic to come to Jonesborough. ”I’m against it,” Fitzgerald said. “The board can vote no.”
The decision to ban those types of facilities could land the Town in court, said Town Attorney Jim Wheeler.
“Other towns have stopped [one from coming in],” Fitzgerald said. “I’ve done my homework.”
Wheeler said a vote against the zone might discourage such a facility from coming into Jonesborough, but it can’t totally protect the Town from it. He added that he knows of no towns that have successfully stopped one with a vote.
“We can do it, but it may not stand up in court,” Wheeler said.
Fitzgerald maintained that other towns have prevented it, but would not say at the time which towns he knew had done so.
“If you know something that could help the citizens of Jonesborough, won’t you share it with us?” asked Wolfe.
Fitzgerald said he would “stop by” to tell Wolfe and Wheeler which towns had set this precedent.
Right now, a facility could come in where a medical office is allowed, Town Administrator Bob Browning pointed out.
This move is a protective one for the citizens of Jonesborough, he said.
“The overlay is a different way of handling this,” he said. “To do nothing would allow them to go everywhere a medical office is allowed.”
Vest, Countermine and Gearhart voted to create the zone, with Fitzgerald voting no.